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FASD and Autism…

I was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, too. About 3 weeks ago. I have not said anything, here because I don’t know how I feel. There is one thing to think you have something, but then you are actually diagnosed with it. I went through the same thing when a doctor said I had all the characteristics of someone with FASD. I knew that you could have both. I actually wondered if I did. I have heard that people with FASD can have both. I know both can have a lot of the same traits, but I had a neurologist ask me a bunch of questions and he said not only by my answers, but in observing me, he knew I had Autism. Hmmm. Someone asked me how I felt. I didn’t even answer. I really don’t know how I feel about it. I’m not saying this is bad. I have got to know a lot of neurotypicals in my years and I can honestly say, there is not one I would want to be like…lol. So, I’m okay with being on the spectrum. When i wrote Autism Spectrum Disorder, the word that I kept staring at was Disorder. Really? This is a disorder? I want to look up what that means. Wait a second…okay a medical condition involving a disturbance to the usual functioning of the mind.

Okay. I will let that process.

Who says how we process and what we do is a distrubance. Okay. I get that things are not right. But who says that neurotypical brains are just that…typical?…

Just a question. Image

Square peg

This fits for those of us who are FASD. So many times society wants us to fit into society the way they fit. FASD people are absolutely that different peg. We come in all shapes and sizes and we don’t fit into society’s norm. I know personally employers, friends, and even family will try to shape us to fit into what makes sense to them and we are simply wired differently and it ain’t happenin…lol…
The best gift anyone can give any of us with FASD is meet us where we are, love us right where we live. We all need to change and be shaped in life. Nothing wrong with that, but do it with us and accept our disabilities and allow us to function within those parameters.  Frustration is not our friend. When we feel like we need to be different than who we are or the people around us don’t understand us or that the harder we try, the more we disappoint you, meltdowns will occur. 
If we know you will allow us to be who we are, that we don’t have to be pounded into a shape that fits for you, then frustration will be down and growth will be off the charts.
We want to please! If we know you are not pleased with us, then we are crushed. Our entire being wants to be accepted for the square peg that we are. Square, rectangular, triangular, many shaped forms of FASD..
The world is blessed with many different shapes and sizes of people. Our creativity and love for others is so deep …that could be lost if you try to conform us into the rest of society. FASD individuals have a lot of great gifts and talents!!  We are great contributors in society!!

Model school for kids with FASD

Wanted to share this information. The United States is so far behind Winnipeg in educating FASD kids. I will provide a video link about this school as well. Pretending FASD does not exist does not help anyone. It does. We need to add it to IEP’s and get kids the help they need. 
Winnipeg division has model programs

Elsewhere, there’s a patchwork — or nothing

Maddy Sinclair works in a rocking chair in the Bridges program at David Livingstone School, which is primarily aimed at children with FASD.

Maddy Sinclair works in a rocking chair in the Bridges program at David Livingstone School, which is primarily aimed at children with FASD.(WAYNE.GLOWACKI@FREEPRESS.MB.CA)

Alex Everett works one-on-one with education assistant Sylvia Armenti in the Bridges program at David Livingstone School, which is primarily aimed at children with FASD.

Alex Everett works one-on-one witheducation assistant Sylvia Armenti in the Bridges program at David Livingstone School, which is primarily aimed at children with FASD. (WAYNE.GLOWACKI@FREEPRESS.MB.CA )

Storm Whiteway responds in class in the Bridges program at David Livingstone School, which is primarily aimed at children with FASD.

Storm Whiteway responds in class in the Bridges program at David Livingstone School, which is primarily aimed at children with FASD. (WAYNE.GLOWACKI@FREEPRESS.MB.CA )
If you’re a kid with FASD, you better hope you live in the Winnipeg School Division.
Its programs and classes are a model for teachers across the country, the province and the rest of the division.
It’s the only school board in Manitoba that has special classrooms for kids diagnosed with FASD. The Right program at Shaughnessy Park School and the Bridges program at David Livingstone offer classes designed for kids with FASD who aren’t able to learn in a traditional classroom.
“The ultimate goal is for kids to be integrated into regular classrooms,” said David Livingstone principal Debbie Lenhardt Mair.
In the fall, the school division extended the Bridges program to junior high and Grade 9 students at R.B. Russell School.
It also created a new position for one of the program’s pioneers to help all 77 schools come up with learning plans for students with FASD (Students don’t need a formal FASD diagnosis.)
“It’s getting busier and busier,” said Deb Thordarson, who is still based at David Livingstone School. “The strategies we use are good for all kids.”
Outside the Winnipeg School Division, there are many children with undiagnosed FASD who could benefit from the teaching tools and methods they’ve developed, she said.
“I’d like to see Bridges and the Right program in every school,” Thordarson said.
But elsewhere in the province, services for kids with FASD are a patchwork.
None of the other 38 school districts in Manitoba has anything like a David Livingstone School. Several school divisions contacted by the Free Press didn’t know how many kids in their regions were diagnosed with FASD or suspected to have it.
For overworked teachers, kids with FASD are seen as disruptive, willfully lazy and slow. Parents say it can be tricky convincing schools to make adaptations for kids with FASD. Adaptations, a catch-word in the FASD world, could mean anything from allowing a student to use a calculator to modifying assignments, to avoiding group work.
“The hardest time for our kids is middle school and high school,” said Val Surbey, who has adopted and fostered several kids with FASD.
“Very few finish school, many drop out at the middle-school level or aren’t able to progress beyond that level,” she said. Her youngest in the Seven Oaks School Division ended up switching schools because his school wasn’t willing or able to work with him, she said.
People in education are often uneducated on what fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is, Surbey said. “It’s organic brain damage.”
The dad of a teenaged son with FASD once brought in an FASD expert to speak to teachers in his son’s school and the turnout was terrible.
And parents say getting funding for the most basic form of aid, a teaching assistant, can involve endless wrangling between the school division, education and child-welfare departments.
Steinbach mom Jennifer Friesen ruled out the public school system for her adopted daughter because she’d likely get lost in the shuffle in schools already bursting at the seams.
“It just seems to be really hard to crack into the education system,” said Friesen.
“How do you revamp a whole system? If I think the school system needs to be way more FASD-focused, how do you make that happen when each individual kid is so different?”
Educators say they’ve made huge strides in dealing with all kinds of learning disabilities, including FASD.
“It doesn’t matter to us what package the child arrives in,” said Judy Dandridge, the student services co-ordinator at Fort La Bosse school division in Virden. “The label doesn’t always define what we do.”
There are resources that teachers and parents outside the Winnipeg School Division can access, said Thordarson in Winnipeg.
Helping students with FASD develop the tools they need to learn and cope is an investment that will benefit them for a lifetime. “This is a lifelong disability,” said Thordarson. “They won’t grow out of it. We’ve all got to be advocates for these kids.”
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 26, 2011 H3